The Boxing Writers Association of America is proud to announce that its Sugar Ray Robinson 2018 Fighter of the Year is Oleksandr Usyk, who becomes the second Ukrainian to earn that distinction in the 81-year history of the award, following 2017’s winner, Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko.
Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) went 3-0 in 2018 in becoming the first unified cruiserweight champion in the four-belt era. What’s more, Usyk did it by winning each of his fights on the road. In January 2017, Usyk beat Mairis Briedis, in Riga, Latvia, Briedis’ hometown, by majority decision. In July, he beat Murat Gassiev in Moscow to unify all four title belts, by unanimous decision, and in November he smoked Tony Bellew in eight.
The 31-year-old southpaw was a near-unanimous choice, garnering 83-percent of the vote, winning out over Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia, Maurice Hooker and Lomachenko.
And for the second-straight year, more BWAA history was made with the triple-crown winning Team Usyk, taking the BWAA’s fighter, trainer and manager of the year awards for 2018. The feat was accomplished for the second time in BWAA history last year, when Lomachenko was chosen Fighter of the Year, his father, Anatoliy Lomachenko, was selected as the Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year and Egis Klimas as the Cus D’Amato Manager of the Year.
In 2018, both Anatoliy Lomachenko and Klimas are repeat winners in their respective categories. Prior to 2017, the last trio to complete the BWAA’s triple crown was in 1992, when Riddick Bowe was the BWAA FOY, the late renowned Eddie Futch was Trainer of the Year and Rock Newman was Manager of the Year.
In December, the BWAA announced its second Christy Martin Female Fighter of the Year, Claressa Shields, the two-time United States Olympic gold medal winner who successfully defended her two world middleweight titles, then added three super middleweight belts before the end of 2018.
The 2018 Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier Fight of the Year came down to the classic Jarrett Hurd-Erislandy Lara brawl outlasting Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II. Other contenders in this category included Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares, Alex Saucedo-Leonardo Zappavigna and Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz.
For his second-straight Eddie Futch award, Anatoliy Lomachenko won over Jay Deas, Robert Garcia and Derrick James. For his second-straight Cus D’Amato award, Klimas won over Keith Connolly, Sam Katkovski and Chepo Reynoso.
Two giants of televised boxing, one behind the microphone and one behind the scenes, are being recognized by the BWAA for their respective accomplishments on- and off-screen.
Jim Lampley, who has broadcast all manner of athletic spectacles in his lengthy TV career, is best known to boxing fans for his 30-year run as the blow-by-blow announcer for HBO Sports. “Lamps,” as he is known to his many friends in the industry, was visibly moved during his last telecast for the onetime “Heart and Soul of boxing,” as HBO billed itself prior to its announcement that it would end its 45-year association with the sport by the end of 2018. He is a fitting recipient for the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing. Bob Canobbio, Scott Ghertner, Bernard Hopkins and Carl Moretti were the other nominees.
Winner of the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism is Stephen Espinoza, who joined Showtime as its executive vice president and general manager of Sports and Event Programming in November 2011, was promoted to president of Showtime Sports in January after overseeing the premium-cable company’s steady rise to a position of dominance. Showtime president and CEO David Nevin has called Espinoza “the heavyweight champion of his profession.” David Dinkins, Jim Gray, David Harmon and Roy Jones were the other nominees.
An actual former heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, will receive the Bill Crawford-John McCain Award for Courage in Overcoming Adversity. After dethroning longtime champ Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, the “Gypsy King” virtually disappeared for two-plus years, ballooning up to nearly 400 pounds while also in the thrall of a cocaine addiction. But not only did he whip himself back into fighting trim, he survived two knockdowns in fighting WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles. Brian Custer, Kathy Duva, the late John McCain and Jose Santa Cruz were the other nominees.
Three of boxing’s best-liked and most-respected figures – Steve Brener, Ray Stallone and Nonito Donaire — share the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award. Brener has owned Brener Zwikel & Associates, a media relations firm heavily involved in boxing, for 31 years; Stallone is the vice president of media relations for HBO Sports, and Donaire is a four-division world champion who has worked tirelessly to represent the interests of Filipino and Filipino-American boxers. Former light heavyweight champ Badou Jack was the other nominee.